When did drama begin?

As far as history records for us. Churches controlled music so tightly that these traveling shows started out doing plays in towns and actors would change only their hats or so to play different characters. There were eventually stages built where the enterances were customary. If you came from the left of the stage you were from the sea, from the right and you were from another country, two doors in the center of the stage and each door was a different part of the town, such as the bank or the store. Drama has always been there. Whether it was songs sung with dancers or a scripted play. The 'play' concept is attributed to the ancient greeks, mainly Athenians. No real exact date could be put on it but it would be pre-1500BC.

It is also believed that the first instance of drama was in Africa with an oral storyteller called the griot. His narrative would be supplemented with drums and actors playing out motions. According to the Bible, the first drama was when Satan tried to dethrone God and was tossed out of heaven. Technically, the first drama on earth was when Satan tempted Eve to take of the forbidden truth, and when she and her husband took of it, that is when drama became a MAJOR factor.

Long before actors and script-writes began to make 'dramas' there was a tradition or oral story-telling. Bards or poets would travel around to different towns or villages and recite long stories for food or other repayment. 'Drama' as we know it know is a product of Ancient Greece, but most likely not before 1500BC, as this pre-dates the Trojan War era, in which travelling poets were the source of entertainment. === === We can discount biblical myths of Satan and Adam and Eve in the history of drama, though it does allow an element of the ridiculous. And I don't know where this 1500 BCE timeline comes from. The sort of drama of the Greek tragedy dates from a thousand years later. Extant tragedies are 5th C BCE onwards. They descended from religious singing before an altar in forest glades - the orchestra was originally the dancing floor. Progressively a couple of individual actors were introduced to help tell a story, while the chorus remained as part of the arrangement. The altar remained and housed some of the props, eg killings were done off-stage, and the victim might be wheeled out of the altar. Just as the forest religious dances transitioned onto stages with increasing numbers of actors, so those stage plays dedicated to the gods further developed over the centuries to the sort of thing we see in modern theatre/movies.

---- The earliest dramas which have survived are those of Aeschylus who was active from around 524 BC. Greek tradition (though this may be hearsay) attributes the invention of drama to Thespis, from perhaps a generation earlier.

Aeschylus' dramas certainly have the appearance of an artform which has just been invented. Aeschylus uses few actors onstage at any one time, and most of his action is told rather than shown. Considerable advances in the technique of theatre would be made by Aeschylus' immediate successors Sophocles and Euripides (and probably others, though only Sophocles' and Euripides' plays have survived).

Tragedy seems to have come first, but comedy followed soon after with Aristophanes a well-established comedian by the 440's BC.

There have been many societies without drama. Classical Arab commentators famously failed to understand what the terms 'tragedy' and 'comedy' meant when attempting to comment on Aristotle's Poetics (which is mainly about drama). West Africa's griots are storytellers (as anyone who has seen one knows).

Commercial drama begins in Europe during the Sixteenth Century. When James Burbage built the first purpose-designed building for the exhibition of commercial drama there was no name for such a thing - so he had to invent one. He called it The Theatre.